Disclaimer: This is a personal account of my experience living with Depression. I am NOT a doctor. Please talk to a professional if you feel like you are not in a safe place, or if you just need someone to talk to.
National suicide hotline number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
I've been wanting to be more open about my story for some time now and today is the day. I won't be covering all of it because I'm just not that brave, yet.
I may come across as frustrated in this piece beacuse I am. I'm sick of feeling "different".
Mental Health is important and I don't understand why it's so unconventional to talk about. Everyone has a story and no one should ever feel ashamed about struggling with Mental Health.
I'm also writing this as a goodbye of sorts. Over the past few years, I've been trying to let go of things I cannot change and set myself up for a happy, peaceful and authentic future.
In order to do that, I feel I must own my truth and quite frankly, I've grown tired of telling this story so it's going to hang out on the internet.
I've lived with depression my entire life.
I've never truly felt "joy" and have a strong visceral reaction to the question of "how are you?". The answer I'd like to give, is "blah, I feel very fucking blah". Instead, I put on my happy face, smile and say everything is rainbows and butterflies because no one likes a Debbie Downer.
Sure, there are moments I feel genuine happiness but it's usually transactional and often short-lived. On an average day, I feel very meh.
"Persistent Depressive Disorder" has been relayed a few times in the past and although it may be time to be re-evaluated, I still feel comfortable using these words to try to understand why I operate the way I do.
For a high-level overview, let's use the National Institute of Mental Health's definition:
"Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia) is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years to be considered persistent depressive disorder."
..I understand it to be a more mild, but chronic form of depression cursed with occasional periods of super depression (my words).
My depression growing up and throughout high school was far more theatrical. I was very sad, but I think it came out more so in the form of anger. At 28, my depression is more "stable" and "predictable" if you will - we know each other better.
I have low self-esteem and low energy. Most of the time "I feel nothing" or a general sense of numbness can describe exactly where I stand. I do realize my self-worth on paper, but I don't believe it. This, amongst other things, is a hurdle I work very hard at overcoming.
I may seem blasé about this, but that's kind of what it is to me now - it's lost its sparkle and has become so ingrained in my life. Now, I understand I'm a person living with Depression - I'm not a Depressed person - but sometimes it feels impossible to discern where that line is actually drawn.
Like I said, I've accepted my dark shadow is a part of me, but I struggle with determining how far this creeps into my personality. In business, people commend me on my stoic nature and the sense of calm I provide. Is this who am I or is this just depression?
I keep most things to myself because I hate feeling like a burden and don't want others to be dragged down by my issues. It's complicated because putting on a happy show everyday is absolutely exhausting. I don't think of it as being "fake" or altering who I am, I think of it as putting on extra makeup when you're sick because you're forced to attend an event you can't get out of. Some days I'm just not 100%.
Now that I'm older, it's starting to manifest in a different way. I feel like no one understands me, it's more lonely. When I was younger, it was easy to attribute my depression to my past, but now this doesn't ring as true. I unfortunately still carry my past and I've been told it's likely a mixture of genetic and situational factors. I've accepted this is as something I could very well live with for the rest of my life.
Everyone has challenges and this is mine.
After all this, you may not understand and that's okay. I don't even get it a lot of the time. I may decide to share more of my story, but this is where I'm comfortable today.
Here are a few things that best relay how I think & feel and the day-to-day struggles I have:
Taking a shower honestly feels like an achievement
My emotions don't show like others do. In my head I understand that situations call for laughter, happiness or crying but it doesn't flow out of me like I logically think it should. People often underestimate my enthusiasm or don't trust I'm excited about something because my response isn't super lively.
I'm lathargic and I have to think of menial things like brushing my teeth or going to the grocery store as a job or else it won't happen.
Everyday I ask myself if I will ever feel "normal".
I have an extremely hard time sleeping and it's turned into an anxious event. There are many nights when I only sleep 2-3 hours.
Some days it's hard just to go outside. I tend to sulk.
It's difficult to relate to people at times and this makes me feel bad.
Deep down, I never feel good enough, smart enough, pretty enough or worth people's time. I know this isn't really true - I am good enough or whatever that means - but it's something I actively have to work through.
I don't know any of the lyrics, but this music is the best way I can communicate what's going on upstairs. Or, anything by Moderat. They get me.
I've always been an independent and brave person, but publishing your half-secrets on the internet takes a lot of courage. I did it because I'm exhausted and want to set this free, but also because stories shared by others have offered me a great deal of peace. I hope this does the same for someone else.
YOU are not alone.
YOU are loved.
YOU are special.